How the sperm whale can hold its breath for 90 minutes
Biologists have unravelled why deep diving mammals such as sperm whales can hold their breath for over an hour when diving for food – they have electrically charged proteins in their blood.
The researchers believe the finding may explain why some sea mammals are able to make such long underwater dives while other mammals can only hold their breath for a few minutes.
Sperm whales make some of the longest dives achieved by mammals, with some lasting up to 90 minutes, while dolphins and other whales can stay underwater for 20 minutes.
The longest time a human has held their breath for under water is 19 minutes – set by a Swiss freediver called Peter Colat.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool analysed a distinctive molecular signature of a protein called myoglobin, which binds oxygen in blood, from 100 different mammal species.